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Evolution of LNA Aptamers

Final Report Summary - EVOLNA (Evolution of LNA Aptamers)

EVOLNA has been an ambitious but coherent research program with the objective of transforming the field of aptamer technology. Aptamers are single-stranded oligonucleotides which are able to target peptides, proteins, small molecules or live cells by virtue of their well-defined three-dimensional shapes. Because of this capability aptamers are considered a highly promising next-generation type of pharmaceuticals.

Aptamers are typically generated by evolution of specific sequences against a given target by a method called SELEX which is based on molecular evolution. The vision of the EVOLNA project has been to enable evolution of aptamers that per se possess most of the desired properties, thereby alleviating the need for extensive post-SELEX procedures. To achieve this we have combined the unique hybridization properties of LNA (a chemical analogue of DNA) with innovative methods for LNA aptamer evolution.

Novel methods for LNA aptamer evolution and development have been discovered and implemented. One key focus of the EVOLNA program has been to specifically target cancer stem cells, and also towards this goal significant progress has been made in collaborative project activities.

Furthermore have two inventions been made during the program, and a patent application entitled “Improved Aptamers” (WO/2015/117206; AU2015/050045) has been filed together with a collaborator at another university (Prof. Wei Duan, Deakin University, Australia). We expect that the developed strategies will be applicable also towards aptamers for biosensing, diagnostic and imaging applications. The program has been at the very frontier of biotechnology research and has included activities within the areas of chemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, bioinformatics and drug research.